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Waldo contact lenses review: is it wise to buy contacts online?

Waldo contact lenses
Clearly cheaper: but are Waldo lenses really good value?

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Waldo contact lenses rating £12 for 30 lenses
  • Lens quality
  • Packaging and service
  • Value for money
3.5

Summary

A vastly cheaper way to buy contact lenses, with a couple of small drawbacks

If any market is ripe for a kick up the backside, it’s contact lenses. The high-street opticians charge a small fortune for contacts, but fear of sticking something sub-standard in my eye has always prevented me from (ahem) looking elsewhere (update: it turns out I was right to be wary – see the updated section at the bottom of this post). That was until I stumbled across an online advert for Waldo contact lenses.

Waldo offered to send 24 lenses for £2.95 as a trial offer. Given 24 lenses cost the thick end of £20 from my regular optician I decided to give it a go. So will I be making a switch to Waldo from now on? Yes, I probably will, but read on to find out if it’s right for you. 

Waldo’s trial: the catch

Right up front, I’m going to tell you something that wasn’t immediately apparent to me when I signed up for this trial: you will be automatically enrolled into a subscription when you take the £2.95 trial.

It may be that I blithely clicked through a warning, it may be that Waldo is being a tad sneaky, but I first realised my £2.95 ‘no-obligation’ trial was in fact an ongoing subscription when I received the confirmation email after placing my order. It immediately left a bad taste. 

The good news is you can cancel the subscription – but only three days after you’ve placed the order. If I’m being charitable, I’d say that’s because Waldo wants you to see the products before you make a decision. If I’m being my normal uncharitable self, I’d say they’re hoping you’ll forget to cancel in a few days’ time. 

By default, your subscription kicks in nine days after you place your first order, so don’t dither on a decision if you’re going to cancel or your card will be charged.

Waldo contact lenses review: the lenses

Waldo contact lenses

The lenses arrived in a compact box that should fit comfortably through any letterbox – there’s no need to be at home when the delivery arrives, which would evaporate any of the convenience gains. 

The packaging is smart. There’s an instruction book included, although you definitely need to see an optician before you even think about using these – not least because you need to know your prescription strength at the time of ordering. 

Waldo contact lenses

The packaging on the lenses themselves isn’t great. The foil can be a little tough to remove, resulting in spillage of the lens solution if you’re not careful. 

The lenses are physically bigger and thinner than the ones I normally receive from Vision Express (again – see the update at the foot of this post for more on this). That makes them a tad trickier to get in, in my experience, and they’re more prone to fold over if you don’t get them in your eye correctly at the first attempt. They do feel like an inferior product.

Waldo’s website says its “lenses are made of hydrogel, which has a higher water content and means many people find them to be a soft lens in comparison to other materials”. 

That said, once they’re in, I didn’t notice a difference between them and my regular lenses. I have a fairly mild -1.5 in each eye prescription and only uses contacts occasionally when playing sport, but I’ve kept them in for a day and had no problems. 

Waldo contact lenses review: the prices

Waldo sell two types of lenses. The Waldo Original daily contact lenses cost £12 for a box of 30 lenses (delivery is free). 

There’s also a Waldo Vitamin daily lens, which costs £16 for a box of 30. These apparently “help your eyes relax with our ultra-comfortable vitamin lenses”, although that has the whiff of homeopathic cobblers to me.

By default, a subscription is set to deliver a new set of lenses every month, although you can change that to every two or three months. 

Sadly, there’s no option to buy lenses as a one-off purchases. The minimum commitment is quarterly. 

Given that I only use contact lenses about once a week, I’m going to give the three-monthly subscription a go until I end up stockpiling lenses. It’s much less than half the price I pay for lenses as a one-off purchase from my optician and I don’t have to pop into town to pick them up either.

The lens quality isn’t as high, but they’re fine for my occasional needs. Your mileage may vary, of course, which is why it’s worth taking the trial to find out if they suit you. 

UPDATE: I received an email recently from optomerist Elliot Bateman, which I’ve copied in full here. He writes:

I noticed your article on Waldo contact lenses and was wondering if you asked your opticians what their cheapest daily lenses cost?

You were probably wearing silicone hydrogel lenses before, based on your statement that the Waldo lenses felt thinner, which provide more oxygen to your eyes, and are more expensive than standard hydrogel.

Waldo are quite cheap but we (I’m an optometrist) can offer lenses for as little as £10 per 30 lenses, so I was surprised to read that you thought they were less than half the cost of contact lenses from your current optician; I’m assuming therefore that you’re not comparing like with like.

Elliot was absolutely right. When I checked the box of the lenses I get from my optician, they were indeed silicone hydrogel. And given that just last night I had to fish a torn Waldo lens out of my eye, it seems he’s right about the quality too. I’ve lowered the quality score of the lenses and the value for money score accordingly. Many thanks to Elliot for his advice.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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